May 15, 2013

IconIDAHOBIT: terrible name, great campaign

On May 17th, people all across the world will be joining virtual hands as we celebrate the International Day Against Homophobia.

For those of us here in the States, this is not a widely known event, though I can only hope it will become more widespread as time passes. It is officially recognized in places such as the EU Parliament, Spain, Belgium, the UK, Mexico, Costa Rica, Croatia, the Netherlands, France, and Luxembourg as a day to educate the public, our friends and family, and address issues on a political level as well as a personal level.

IDAHO (because of course there’s an acronym) was conceived in 2004 and came into fruition after a yearlong campaign on May 17th, 2005. But really it all began on May 17th, 1990, when the World Health Organization officially removed homosexuality from the International Classification of Diseases. (Hear that people? The WHO doesn’t classify being gay as a disease, nor has it for over 20 years, so it’s time you stop, too.) Years later, IDAHO was born in commemoration of this landmark event, and has been steadily spreading its message every May.

Years after its inception, the acronym was lengthened to IDAHOBIT to include Biphobia and Transphobia. (Yes, I recognize the importance of including Bi and Transphobia, but I can’t help but smirk a little when I read IDAHOBIT out loud.) The campaign continues to grow every year, especially as more people spread the word online, “fighting the homophobia web virus”.

What I like about this campaign is that it is clean and simple. Spread the word about homophobia to friends, co-workers, family members, and strangers you are “friends” with online. Donate money to help cover the costs of pamphlets and paper educational materials. Sign petitions (for those that live in nations where they officially recognize IDAHOBIT) to encourage the government to protect our civil rights. Write a blog. Fly a rainbow flag. Share a human rights’ video on your wall. And get the message across that homophobia is not only wrong, but it is hurtful.

Oh yeah, and wear some rainbow pride to work.

The main thing is you can support this campaign, this event, from the comfort of your own home. It is easy to join the fight against homophobia, and more importantly, it is imperative.

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Maria Burnham

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